On a ship cruise like this, one is treated like royalty. I had muffins and cookies delivered to my room by the porter every day. We also got a welcome gift – a lovely men’s cologne, a great lavender and vanilla smell that I enjoyed wearing when I went for supper. I used to roam around the ship in my blue denim, black t-shirt and flip flops as casual as ever. I would wake up late at times and miss a few dockings and expeditions to the islands but that was cool as I was in no hurry. As it is, I could get the view of the great Antarctic Peninsula from the balcony of my room where I had put my camera on a stand. I would shoot pictures from here all the while. At times, there would be an announcement from the captain’s deck when any whale has been sighted. We would all rush to the top deck to take a view from the grand terrace pool on top.
But, it was the wildlife of Antarctica which was the most majestic with Weddell Seals, Antarctic Penguins, Elephant Seals and Fur Seals. These seals are blobby little things and most of the time, it feels as if they are trapped in their own body. They are very poor on land and have to almost drag themselves inch by inch to move on the ground. They feel restricted and helpless on the shore but in water, they move like magic. Their thick rubber-like blubber gives them a lot of protection from the icy temperatures of the region. They love to eat fish as a meal to survive. The Weddell Seal was discovered by James Weddell in 1820. It grows a brown and dark fur around its skin as it grows to protect it from the cold climate of the region.
I saw many of them. Some were just lying on the pebbled earth on the seashores. Some were almost snoozing on top of thick masses of ice. They would move a bit or open their eyes to give us a pose for the camera. Then like snails, they would try to wriggle past us with not much progress as they are hopeless on solid ice or land.
I also spotted the famous Tuxedo Penguin who had black lines marking their necks which looked like a bow tie in a black tuxedo. A huge colony of Antarctic Penguins dances around the land mass of Antarctica making funny noises and flapping their wings. We were asked to keep our distance and take photos from afar so as to not scare these gentle creatures. It’s as if nature had made these creatures just for this great continent. Their entire notary was suited to the icy cold terrains of this region. Most of these animals feasted on krill, prawns and sea fish to survive and give them the required energy.
The panoramic view of the slates of ice floating on the ocean bed was another sight to behold as our ship motored through cutting the thick plates of ice and sending them to the sides. This was the only way to cruise forward. Vast regions of the ocean were covered by slates of ice like granite floating on the surface of ocean water.
Ahh! Truly wild and icy Antarctica…